Monday, March 31, 2014

Bun bun bun bun...

I'm totally digging this bun look. And I'm super crushing on the fact that it's cool to have a sloppy bun. I like this for primarily two reasons: 1) I'm lazy and 2) I'm bad at doing my hair. Mod looks that demand perfection are NOT for me, especially with my frizzy, crazy curly hair. Buns and braids are now my go-to hairstyles when I haven't taken a shower or if I'm having a bad hair day, and I love that my hair is long enough to have those options. When it was still too short I'd try to wet it again to see if the results were different, and many times it still was uncooperative. I'm gonna ride out this bun look way past its prime. 


Thursday, March 27, 2014

Tofino Whale Fest

Thar she blows!

I've decided that Tofino, BC is one of my favorite places on this planet. As I've been to everywhere else in the world and have visited Tofino two whole times, this claim has a lot of weight. In all seriousness-- I love the rustic wildness, laid-back atmosphere, and pristine beauty that doesn't compare to anywhere else I've visited. Tofino's gorgeous coast, spectacular rain forest, and varied wild life makes it such a unique and interesting place. 

Pacific coast sunsets

Half of my love for Tofino is just getting there-- immediate road trip! It's reasons like this that I *love* that Jon and I bought a car before moving out here. To be able to get up and go on a six hour trip up island to see one of the most beautiful places on Earth is such a liberating, wonderful feeling. I love the time to have funny, meaningful, and interesting conversations with my travel friends and to enjoy the stunning scenery around us. I often forget how big and beautiful Vancouver Island is, and I'm humbly reminded on road trips like this. I often see the snow-peaked mountains in Washington and on the mainland in BC, but I rarely get to see the snow peaked mountains right here! 

Part of the Vancouver Island Ranges mid-way to Tofino

This trip was no exception in exceeding my expectations. I felt like I was walking into this thinking, "been there, done that." My first trip to Tofino was only about four months ago and I felt like I got a good sense of the place. I had forgotten how simply beautiful it is there and revisiting some of the same beaches with different people gave me completely different perspectives. We went to Chesterman Beach in November where I spent a good time climbing some rocks and taking photos, but I had no idea that during low tide the starfish, anemones, and other sea creatures almost literally covered the rocks there! I was happily surprised to find such new adventures and beautiful things to find, and realized that I've only seen a small portion of what that area has to offer.

A constellation of starfish

Of course the reason we went to Tofino was for the Pacific Rim Whale Festival, which happens every year in March to celebrate the return of the grey whale. The whale, which migrates past Tofino every year with new members in tow, has been traveling up the coast from Mexico. The whales apparently don't eat much during the winter while living the tough life of soaking up sub-equator sun rays. They do eat an obscene amount once they come up here, for the krill and other fish that they eat are super abundant in this area's ocean. Jon and I were the only ones out of our person group to go on a whale watching tour, mostly because I was the only one who had never seen whales before! It was bitterly cold on the ocean and I did get mildly sea sick while waiting for whales, but the new perspective of the island from the water and the majesty of seeing actual whales was soooo worth it. On our tour we also got to see harbor seals, sea lions, sea otters, and a few bald eagles-- over all, and excellent investment!

Whale back! We did see some whale fins, but I was too sea sick to take a photo.

I wish I could bring my east coast visitors to this place when they come to visit, for it really is quite wonderful, but the whole trip would be centered around going there, and the idea of sitting in the car for six hours after someone just got off a plane for six hours seems horribly unappealing. Maybe one day and east coaster will be strong and resilient enough to come enjoy the rustic awesomeness of Tofino-- until then, it shall be enjoyed with our wonderful new west coast friends!

Awkward surfing high-fives!

Hopping over to see some starfish

Wellies schmellies! Who needs 'em when you've got bare feet?

Another (one of so many) great reason to go to Tofino and to drive there is to visit Cathedral Grove on the way back! This grove of trees is full of old growth, with some trees up to 800 years old! It's wonderfully still and quiet here, and an unearthly color green all year round. 

At The Big Tree

Thursday, March 20, 2014

One Year Wedding Anniversary!

Just married!

There was only two short days between my parents' leaving and me and Jon's anniversary! One year ago on the 18th Jon and I were married in Portland and it's been a crazy, romantic, and happy journey ever since. I feel so lucky to have such a creative, loving, and inquisitive man as my partner who is always adding to my perspective on life. He has taught me so many things, and I continue to learn from him about life and myself. It's weird-- while I didn't know I would marry him when I met him (although I did have an inexplicable hunch), I knew something about him, about us, was different than any other person I had met before. The crazy chemistry and connection we immediately had that slowly blossomed into the loving understanding and sincere respect we have for one another told me that Jon was someone special, and someone I wanted to be around all the time. 

Getting hitched and stuff.

That's not to say that this past year hasn't also been hard at times; it may have been one of the hardest that I've faced. This past year I finished up my masters' thesis (which was horribly stressful), Jon was declined and accepted into PhD programs, we moved across country, I was unemployed, Jon faced tough times adjusting to student life, all while we both struggled with long-standing inner demons. But these problems, like anything, has showed me how supportive we can be of one another and how much we have learned from each other. 

At our reception picnic that following July.

Okay, all that serious crap aside, what I really wanted to post was the cute decorations I put up for the special occasion! Jon and I had initially planned some fantastic adventure for the day, but due to his work load from school, our fabulous adventure to spend the night in tree houses, exploring caves, or possibly taking a ferry over to a remote island dwindled to ordering Chinese take-out at home. Which, in the long run, was a lot less stressful and more relaxing than those other adventures. In any case, I decided to make some cute decorations to celebrate this past year! 

Entrance hallway with what is that...?

... Adorable book heart garland! (Not books of merit were harmed in the making of this garland)

Darn back-lit window makes it hard to read, but it says: "03 <3 18 <3 13."

Green and yellow streamers with a bonus Clemens (the orange triangle streamers are there all year round).

Final touches: tea lights around some pretty (nearly dead) carnations!

I wanted to take the time and thank my friend Skjelse for helping me with crafting up these decorations and giving me the space to do it! I was trying to be as incognito as possible, and her and Jeff's apartment was the perfect place.

The next time I'll post will be about our upcoming adventure to Tofino for the Pacific Rim Whale Fest! Woohoo!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Parents' Visit!

At Ogden point with Mom & Dad!

So many things happening these two weeks! Thankfully I'm off of work due to March break in the primary schools, but if I wasn't I don't know what I would have done! My parents came to visit, me and Jon's anniversary is today, we're heading to Tofino for whale fest on Friday, and then Jon's birthday is next Wednesday! Wheh! 

A lot packed into such short period of time, which summarizes my parents' visit fairly well. With only two full days and two half days, there wasn't a lot of time to spend with them, but I'm happy with the time we had together and everything we got to see! 

At Butchart Gardens

The first day was fairly low-key with a small trip to Fantan Alley and then to Beacon Hill Park and the log beach. They lucked out with very little rain for the whole trip, so they got a fantastic view of the Olympic Mountains the entire time! That following day we spent at Butchart Gardens where everything was just about coming up. I decided to get a year membership to the gardens so I can visit again in a month. Even though there weren't as many blossoms as I was expecting, my parents loved it there and I think it inspired my mom to start working on her garden! Afterward we took a short drive up Mount Douglas to catch a great panoramic view of Victoria and the surrounding islands and mountains.

At Mount Doug with Mount Baker in the distance.

On Friday we went to the Royal BC museum and then walked around the Inner Harbour to see the Parliament building and The Empress hotel. My parents loved the look of the Parliament building, especially all lit up at night! Friday was spent browsing some comic shops and other cute stores and ended with a bittersweet goodbye at the ferry terminal. I was sad to see them go, but hopefully they'll come out again while we're still here to see some more of the island! The farthest away we drove was to Butchart Gardens, and I would love to show them the wild nature of this lovely place.

In other news, I just wanted to mention was a sweet, thoughtful gift my friend Gillian gave me! She read my previous recipe blog post about my lack of avocado in my kale salad and decided to give me an avocado the next time we saw each other! Maybe because it was such a lovely and unexpected gift, but I believe it was the best avocado I've ever had.

Avocado bliss!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Kale Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

Nice light lunch!

I've been meaning to make this salad for quite some time, and since kale was on sale at the grocery store and I had left-over quinoa in the fridge, this week was the perfect occasion! With its tart and sweet lemon vinaigrette, I think it's the perfect winter/spring transition salad. Although the recipe called for avocado (which would have been spot-on), they weren't on sale so I went without, but that doesn't mean that you should! 

Making salad dressing doesn't get any prettier!

Salad ingredients, assemble! 

Lovely close-up! 


1 bunch chopped kale 
1/2 Cup cooked quinoa
Chopped pecans, to taste
Chopped avocado, optional 

Lemon Vinaigrette:

1/4 Cup olive oil
1/4 Cup apple cider vinegar 
3 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 Tablespoon maple syrup

Start by making whisking all of your vinaigrette ingredients in a bowl. Set aside.

Then, assemble your salad ingredients. Wash the kale, remove the stems, and chop into bite-sized pieces and place on a large plate. Add the chopped pecans (which I just broke apart by hand), optional avocado, and finally the cooked quinoa. Top with dressing, to taste. 

Super easy, eh? Like I mentioned, I ended up using left-over quinoa from my fridge, but if you intend to make this from scratch, use about a 1/2 cup cooked quinoa (which is about a 1/4 dry). 

When I made this for myself I was intended to break this up into 2 servings: for immediate consumption and the next day, so I halved the entire salad fixings, but it didn't go according to plan! The salad dressing unfortunately does not keep so I would suggest either making this a large lunch salad for one hungry person or two smaller salads for two peckish people. 


Had to share my latest thrift score-- those flowers make me so happy!

Saturday, March 8, 2014


Totally forgetting to blog

Uh... sorry about that guys. I'm not quite sure where February went in the blog world. I do want to keep this blog up and running to keep everyone back home updated on my western adventures and any random passer-byers to get a peek. I still am bouncing around ideas for a wordy post in the future about marriage, gender, and changing last names (I haven't forgotten about you ladies!) along with a bunch of new recipes that I've been trying and will hopefully get the courage to do a fashion post in the near future.

In recent news, my good, dear friend Dana visited us from Philadelphia! She had a bit of a Pacific Northwest adventure and travelled from Seattle, to here in Victoria, to Vancouver, back to Seattle. I had so much fun spending time with her and showing her to my favorite restaurants and hiking spots. I introduced her to my circle of friends up here and she finally got to meet Mr. Clemens! I hope she comes and visits again soon, or better yet, fulfills her dream of moving to Seattle!

 Silly mountaintop antics

Taking a rest on top of a vista

Mt Baker as seen from the ferry to Vancouver

I've also been doing a fair amount of hiking with some friends here. I'm getting rather spoiled with this lifestyle, and am afraid I'm already used to it. My job only runs until the end of school and at that point I'll be unemployed. I've talked for months about finding a morning job to carry me over during the summer, but I'm dreading giving up these perfect mornings for hiking. Practicality is so boring.

Snowy Cascades in the distance

My hiking buddies

Why work when you can have this???

I promise to post again soon with camera updates, new recipes, and my visitors coming next week: My parents!!